Wednesday, December 28, 2011

E 01 - Sri Lanka’s First Expressway…….did the EIA address the impact?

Southern Highway
E 01 – Sri Lanka’s first ever expressway from Kottawa in Colombo to Matara in the southern province was partially commissioned  up to Galle, a main city in the south of Sri Lanka  on 27th November 2011.

To me and many other Galle wallahs employed in Colombo, home is now an hours drive away. This is the most welcome happening in this year to those of us who drive to Colombo for employment every Monday and back home on Friday. Gone are the days when we had to leave home by 4.30 or 5.00 a.m for work on a Monday morning driving for 3hrs and 30 mints . We could now leave comfortably by 6.30 a.m and be at work by 8.00 in Colombo. On Friday we are home for dinner on time.

However there are others that visit the highway and do not make it home for dinner. Numerous were the fauna that met with fatalities during the first few weeks.The canine population that lived off the workforce that left leaving them behind trapped between the fences perished among the speeding traffic. The dogs were not alone. A few creepy reptiles, iguanas, water monitors, black naped hare, mongooses, ring-tail civets and feral cats with a few peacocks also pass away day to day having been run over by the speeding traffic. The fatalities is much in the section beyond the Welipenna inter-change where the highway traverses through rubber plantations where the density of the fauna is high unlike in the other section that runs more on marshy land.

The authorities have given time to mend and repair the fences; this is done but the problem seem to exist still. Did not the Environmental Impact Assessment [EIA] have means to mitigate this issue. I’m sure the presence of the fauna was known and mitigation action taken by providing underpasses for terrestrial fauna. The non presence of wild boar fatalities show that the fence is active and the underpasses are working. The hare would be those trapped within while civets and mongooses and the monitors cannot be stopped by a fence.  The avian fauna is special and the attraction of the  peacocks to the open expanse on the road early morning in the Divithura area is so sad. A fair number will be lost until they get accustomed to the speeding vehicles.
There happens to be an all new scenario where the EIA may not have accessed. That is the avian fauna and the canines that are attracted to the carrion  left on the road. There is a  fair number of Brahamini kites and crows that take off from carrion when a vehicle approaches. Misjudging the speed knocks them down as well.

It is also noted that the present canine numbers are found at the inter-change points where no entry restrictions apply. Also it should be noted that we Asians do not take responsibility of our pets as in the western world where they are reared on a leash. 

If anyone opines that the EIA lacks in addressing these issues, I feel it is wrong to say so. It is more a case of having an expressway or not. Eventually the avian fauna may get accustomed to the speeds and the canine population need to be kept at bay for which we are partly responsible. 

However when you encounter two home reared goats crossing the highway at leisure…. it’s we on the road who are at risk, and the EIA did not access  this impact.

[photographing them was not possible at 90 kmph]

1 comment:

  1. I think the bird and animal fatalities will gradually decrease as you say. They will learn to stay away or find access routes. Of course, there will still be some collisions, as anywhere in the world. The birds that feed off the carrion are also noticeable in European countries where you can actually see the trees along stretches of highway dotted with hawk, eagle, and owl nests, built for the convenient fast food that the highway brings them.